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International fashion event unveils new initiatives

Successful World Fashion Week is to undergo a major overhaul later in the year, according to organizers. The new-look bi-annual event will be launched in tandem with an online magazine and boutique. Pictured at left, president of Mode Îles, Owen Bethel. (Jim Leggett/ ©Dupuch) 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A fashion event that draws designers from across the globe has announced significant changes to its production and format heading into its fifth year.

Organizers of the award-winning Islands of the World Fashion Week , Mode Îles Ltd, said its signature event is now to become known as Islands of the World Fashion Showcase (IWFS). The event will be held twice a year in May and November.

Nick Verreos, a designer based in Los Angeles

Nick Verreos and a model on the catwalk at World Fashion Week. Verreos, a designer based in Los Angeles, was a contestant on the reality TV series Project Runway several years ago. (Photo courtesy Mode Îles, Ltd)

Each event will be hosted for two days with participation limited to ten designers per event. The event in May will highlight designer resorts, sports and swimwear and accessories. November’s event will feature designer couture, prêt à porter, casual wear and accessories.

“The new format will definitely enhance the promotion and exposure of the designers in innovative ways, ultimately with the intent of making it a commercially viable avenue to transform their creativity into sales,” says Owen Bethel, president of Mode Îles.

Endorsed from inception by the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) , Islands of the World Fashion Week has been successful in fulfilling its mandate of promoting island designers from around the world, exposing them to international media and buyers.

Since its 2008 inauguration, the event has hosted over 70 designers from diverse island-nations including The Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Fiji, Haiti, Indonesia, Jamaica, Madagascar, the Philippines, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, and Turks & Caicos.

One important feature of the fashion event that will remain unchanged is the awards component. Categories include NextGen Designer, Sustainable Eco-Fashion, and Culture & Fashion. The presentation of the Humanitarian Designer Award will continue to be an integral part of the new format. International designers Kenneth Cole and Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) are previous winners.

Playing off the success of 2010 fashion week’s television show will be a new six-part “reality documentary.” The documentary will focus on participating designers and their countries. The show will be syndicated to television and cable networks around the world, in addition to specialized fashion trade networks.

According to Tomas Frenes, vice president and production manager of Mode Îles, special features being introduced into the new format will include presentations by architects and interior designers. Frenes, a former Versace director with his own furniture line, says the presentations will highlight these professionals contribution to fashion and style.

Meantime, the growth in demand for products showcased during previous events prompted organizers to launch the online magazine, ExÎles, and its accompanying internet store, ExÎles Boutique.

Once up and running next year, both are expected to feature designer arts, crafts and accessories unique to an island lifestyle. Organizers expect the online store to become a major distribution and sales outlet for the IWFS runway designs.

“The state-of-the-art online store and marketing thrust offered through that medium will give designers an unprecedented opportunity to introduce and sell their designs to previously untapped markets,” Bethel explains. “ExÎles [Boutique] will itself invite special designers to produce lines of clothing under its proprietary label.”

The successful Islands of the World Fashion Tour, introduced in 2010, will continue as a promotional tool, visiting key cities around the world.

To facilitate these latest developments, however, organizers have had to cancel the showcase scheduled for this November.

“This is truly a watershed transition in the development, and the continued growth of this fairly young venture in an international and dynamic industry bodes well for the islands and The Bahamas,” says Bethel. “These are crucial steps in fulfilling our mission of providing a multi-faceted showcase for the talent in the islands and to encourage value-added economic activity in these countries.”


The Bahamas government signed an Economic Technical Cooperation Agreement with the People's Republic of China this week, bringing the total value of bilateral technical agreements between the two countries to around $30 million. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Brent Symonette (pictured at left) greets Vice Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Wang Qishan, September 10. (BIS Photo/Kris Ingraham - more photographs after the jump)

Speaking at the First Regional Seminar on Tourism, project manager for the Sustainable Tourism Entrepreneurial Management and Marketing (STEMM) Project, Dr T Jennifer Edwards, said that smaller hotels, particularly in the Family Islands, need more support in terms of business management, promotion and marketing.

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